UOR Tech proposes to provide project planning and engineering services to companies that want to organize and carry out projects to recover oil & gas resources using Underground Drilling Platforms.
It is a recognized fact in the petroleum industry that conventional processes leave a lot of oil in the ground, and that development of many other oil fields are blocked by rules, regulations and policies designed to protect the environment or elements of society.
- It is these resources, which are difficult or impossible to recover using conventional means, which are the target of development by UOR Tech.
- The Wall Street Journal quoted a Senior Executive from Chevron as saying “The best place to find more oil is where you know it already exists.”
We recognized that these projects require 4 key elements for success:
- The knowledge of petroleum engineering to know how to effectively get the resource out of the ground
- Knowledge and capability to safely build the underground drilling platforms
- An organization with the capability to manage and operate large, complex projects
- The innovation to bring the other elements together.
To meet these needs, we have developed a virtual organization and capability through strategic partnerships –
- We have a teaming arrangement with Parsons Brinkerhoff Energy Storage Solutions and their parent firm, Parsons Brinkerhoff. PBESS is the builder of much of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve and many facilities for the underground storage of crude oil and natural gas. Will Streeter worked for Parsons Brinkerhoff.
- UOR Tech is in discussions with a very large enginnering and construction firm to provide the project management capability. Our management partner will be a large, internationally recognized leader in engineering, project management, and construction with the capability to support both petroleum and mining facilities.
- Petroleum expertise will come on a project by project basis, to take advantage of ownership of the resources or of specific knowledge of the resources in a geologic region.
- UOR Tech is the innovator who will integrate the other capabilities.
UOR Tech is familiar with and has developed improvements to two concepts for UOR projects:
Gravity Drainage Concept
In most cases the Gravity Drainage concept will be used to recover additional oil from mature oil fields. It also can be combined with the Extended Reach concept when a shallow oil field is in a restricted area.
- A typical oil field development leaves 65% of the oil in the ground. UOR may be able to recover an additional 20 to 30 % of the original resource.
- The concept is to build a series of tunnels underneath shallow oil fields, probably down to about 3,000 ft. Wells (or drain holes) are drilled from the tunnels up into the oil bearing zone on close spacing.
- The wells are short, small, and no pump is required, so the wells are inexpensive and the wells can be drilled close together. Instead of 1, 5 or 10 acres per well, we could put in wells at 5 to 10 per acre.
Only 10% of the original oil-in-place has been recovered in over 100 years of production from a field in the Onshore Gulf Coast Region. It is a target that has been evaluated by UOR Tech and others.
- DOE did a study on this oil field, but the concept used was not effective, mostly because the project was built on a 160 acre lease.
- As part of that study, DOE looked at other sites where the concept could be applied, and the report stated they had 124 sites with 50 billion barrels of oil that were targets. And that analysis was performed when oil sold for $18/bbl.
- Will Streeter led a very preliminary study of this field while working at Bechtel that concluded oil can be produced for less than $10 per barrel. This project has lots of even greater upside potential.
- The plan that was developed is to produce 50,000 bbl/day from this operation, but the field is big enough that more is possible.
Extended Reach Concept
The Extended reach concept is useful when the surface area above the oil is restricted and development is blocked. This could be because of environmental constraints, parks, urban development, bodies of water (large lakes or offshore), or military usage.
- In this concept, an underground access site is developed outside the restricted area. Then, horizontal tunnels are built to get to the area above the reservoir. Large underground chambers are built to house the drilling rig, which then drills down (usually) to the oil bearing rock.
- At that point, other petroleum technologies (water-flood, horizontal wells or hydro fracing) could be applied.
- Statoil did an evaluation using the extended reach concept to go 50 km (35 miles) under the North Sea.
UOR Tech has evaluated one such site where an oil company proposed to place their drilling pads very close to a pristine beach and near million $ houses.
Permits to develop this site were disapproved.
- UOR Tech talked to the leader of the group that opposed the development and described the underground concept. When asked if the underground approach would be acceptable, the opposition leader said that would be OK, as it addressed all their concerns. The rules blocking the original project specifically stated drilling would be OK if it occurred 500 ft underground.
- It still would be a challenge to get permits, but it should be possible.
- A speculative analysis of a project where the underground access site is two miles inland determined that the miles of tunnels and the underground chambers would probably cost about $100 million to build. When applied to the 60 million barrels of recoverable oil as predicted by the oil company, that is only $2 per barrel.
- Since the project was attractive at $16/bbl, it should still be good at $70 to $100 per barrel.
The Shell "Opportunity" Scenario:
While at Bechtel, Will Streeter was asked by Shell to look at a prospect in
While at Bechtel, many contacts were made with some major oil companies, including Shell, Chevron and Arco. One question which was asked was, if the idea is so good, why the oil companies didn’t want to develop it.
- The answer was that the underground technology and integration was not in their core competencies
- They specifically said that they would like to see someone develop the capability and show that it would work – then they would hire that firm to perform projects for them.
- Part of the UOR Tech strategy is to become that firm (with our partners).